KBC Offline Quiz: Who became the first musician to be awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’?

Mohammad Rafi

MS Subbulakshmi

Lata Mangeshkar

Kishore Kumar

Answer: MS Subbulakshmi

Madurai Indian Carnatic singer Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, on September 16, 1916, and passed away on December 11, 2004. She was the first musician to ever receive India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna.

  She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1974 with the citation reading “Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India. She was the First Indian who performed in United Nations General Assembly in 1966.”  

Subbulakshmi, also known as Kunjamma to her family, was born to veena player Shanmukavadiver Ammal and Subramania Iyer on September 16, 1916 in Madurai, Madras Presidency. Akkammal, her grandma, played the violin.

Subbulakshmi grew up in a setting that was very supportive of her musical education because her mother, a devadasi from the community, was an accomplished musician and frequent stage performer. Her interactions with Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar, and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar on a daily basis also influenced her musical tastes.

M.S. Subbulakshmi received her early tuition in Carnatic classical music from her mother Shanmukhavadivu and then received training in Hindustani classical music from Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas. When Subbulakshmi was 10 years old, her debut album was released.

In 1929, at the age of 13, Subbulakshmi delivered her debut performance at the esteemed Madras Music Academy. The concert included bhajans being sung (Hindu hymns). The college, which was renowned for its stringent selection procedures, broke with convention by asking a young girl to perform as a major act. She attracted a large following and the label of musical genius from critics for her captivating performance. Subbulakshmi rose to prominence as a top Carnatic vocalist not long after giving her initial performances.

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